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Fishmongers, UPDF Marines Clash Over Fishing in Ntungwa, Nchwera Rivers

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Isaac Tinyinekabi, the Rweshama parish council who also doubles as a fishmonger, says that their ancestors under their clan umbrella Banyabutumbi United Association started fishing in Ntungwa and Nchwera rivers in 1953 as a source of food for their families.
08 Mar 2021 16:34
Part of River Ntungwa in Rweshama parish,Bwambara sub county,Rukungiri district (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

Audio 7

There is a dispute between Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF Marine soldiers attached to Rweshama landing site on Lake Edward and fishermen in Bwambara Sub-county in Rukungiri district over fishing in Nchwera and Ntungwa rivers. 

The two rivers are tributaries of Lake Edward from Queen Elizabeth National park. Fishermen claim that they started fishing in both rivers in the 1950s’ without any disturbance from security. They, however, claim that the situation started changing when the government deployed Marine soldiers at Rweshama landing site.

According to the fishermen, the soldiers started by restricting the number of people who can fish in both rivers before went on to block everyone. They claim that the soldiers whip whoever they find fishing in the rivers.   They now want the soldiers to explain where they got powers to ban them from fishing into the two rivers yet their mission is to protect Lake Edward.

Isaac Tinyinekabi, the Rweshama parish council who also doubles as a fishmonger, says that their ancestors under their clan umbrella Banyabutumbi United Association started fishing in Ntungwa and Nchwera rivers in 1953 as a source of food for their families.

Tinyinekabi, who is also the chairperson of the United Association, says that in 1983, the association entered into a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Uganda, Wildlife Authority-UWA to allow them to continue fishing in the two rivers. 

He says that in the MOU, the fishmongers are required to take care of the rivers and control overflows from both rivers during the rainy season. Prior to the deployment of Marine soldiers at the landing site, the association members used to pay UWA Shillings 400,000 for using the two rivers.


 

//Cue in: “itwe omugyera river…  

Cue out: …babonamu ebye’nyanja.”//

He, however, says that a year after their deployment, the soldiers evicted them from the two rivers. Tinyinekabi says that the soldiers also stopped residents from accessing the rivers to get feeds for their chicken.  

//Cue in: “Everything stalled after…  

Cue out: …the lake,”//

Rukiga

//Cue in: “FP kuyamazire kuhika…  

Cue out: …gwa hameizi.”//

Henry Chance, the Vice-Chairperson of Rweshama Fishmongers Association, says that part of the 3500 people occupying Rweshama landing site would benefit from the two rivers through fishing and getting chicken feeds.  Chance says that because locals no longer control the water overflow to the national park, floods often affect the landing site during heavy rains.


 

He says the soldiers should allow residents with license to fish from Lake Edward and allow them to keep fishing in the two rivers because it is their only source of survival since they can’t practice agriculture in the national park.

//Cue in: “omugyera tukaba twine…  

Cue out: …kwabo nokukoza.”//


Enock Kasibayo and Gordian Kato, both fishmongers say that what angers them is that soldiers whip whoever they find fishing in the two rivers.

//Cue in: “eza ntungwa eza…

Cue out: …bakushangayo nibakutererayo.”//


Bernard Baingana, the commandant of the UPDF Marine Operations on Lake Edward, says they will not allow any person to access the rivers until the Fisheries Ministry clears them. He says that two rivers are breeding zones for fish, arguing that allowing fishmongers to fish there affects fish multiplication.

//Cue in: “it is Ntungwa…

Cue out: …breeding zone.”//

Runyankore

//Cue in: “ministry of fisheries…

Cue out: …omu mazariro.”//